When you’re making a show or film set in a specific period and often references back to that era’s pop culture, it is important to do some heavy research to nail that era. If not, you will probably have someone who lived through that era sighing, saying that you’ve got it all wrong. 

This is what happened with Matt and Ross Duffer on the set of Stranger Things. Winona Ryder, who plays Joyce Byers on the Duffer Brothers’ series, often made sure that the creators maintained 1980s accuracy on set. 

In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, David Harbour revealed that the Duffer Brothers would often have to change the scripts after Ryder fact-checked them.

“She’d tell them, This song actually came out in ‘85, and you have it in ‘83,” Harbour said. “She knew all of the minute, tiny details they didn’t even know, and they had to change things in the scripts based on that… It’s just kind of epic how wild her mind is and how it goes to all these different corners.” 

As a teen icon of the '80s, Ryder knew the intimate details of the era’s pop culture because she lived it. The details that define a specific time are incredibly important to understand the culture of your show, especially when nostalgia is a huge element like it is in Stranger Things.  

While acting as the show’s fact-checker, Ryder also took up the role of a mentor to the child stars on the show.

“I want the kids to understand, this does not happen,” Ryder explains. “This is really unusual. And I’m always telling them, ‘The work is the reward!’ Because when I was that age, it was so hard to enjoy the fruits of my labor.” 

Ryder continued, “This business is brutal. You’re working constantly, but if you want to take a break, they tell you, ‘If you slow down, it’s going to stop.’ And then it did slow down. So then you’re hearing, ‘It’s going to be impossible to come back.’ And then that changes to, ‘You’re not even part of the conversation.’ Like, it was brutal.”

Reflecting on her transition from teen star to her comeback on Stranger Things, Ryder said, “It’s so interesting when you look at the early aughts. It was a kind of cruel time. There was a lot of meanness out there… And then I remember coming back to L.A. and—it was a rough time. And I didn’t know if that part of my life was over.”

Ryder’s mentorship for the breakout child stars and to the Duffer Brothers shows us that there is a lot that we can learn from the generation that came before us that can help sharpen our skills as filmmakers. We should have an appreciation for what they endured during that time. 

Research is extremely important and can be fun, but you can learn a lot from those who grew up in the era that you want to represent. Use your time wisely, and appreciate those who can bestow some intimate details about a time period. 

Let us know what you think in the comments! 

Source: Harper Bazaar